Production of coffins at one of the UK’s only manufacturers will be brought to a “complete stop” after workers overwhelmingly backed strike action over a pay dispute.
Staff at the Co-op Funeralcare factory in Glasgow say they are being subjected to a “real-terms” pay cut following negotiations earlier this year.
Members of the Unite union say the tabled deal was “less than half” of the latest estimate of inflation according to the retail price index, at 12.3%.
Employees are now set to walk out from October 31 every day until November 7 after 96% backed industrial action on an 86% turnout.
Willie Thomson, Unite industrial officer, said: “Co-op Funeralcare have left our members with no option but to take strike action as they have failed to table an acceptable wage offer.
“We have given negotiations every opportunity to resolve this dispute but the Co-op are failing to recognise the cost of living crisis.
“Unite’s members are sending a clear message by taking strike action that the wage offer is unacceptable, and they are determined to fight for a better wage deal.”
Co-op Funeralcare, one of the UK’s biggest funeral directors, made an underlying profit of £12m in 2021, Unite said.
The union was unable to confirm the exact pay offer, but branded the terms “unacceptable”.
General secretary Sharon Graham added: “The Co-op trades on being different to bad employers; it should not be proposing a real-terms pay cut for their Funeralcare workers, especially when they can well afford to pay fairly.
“We will fully support our Co-op members in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”
A Co-op Funeralcare spokesperson said the strike would have “no impact” on their ability to support bereaved families, adding a “strong supply of coffins” remained available.
“Our colleagues at our Glasgow coffin factory are a hugely valued part of our Co-op and following ongoing discussions with Unite we are disappointed that we have not been able to reach an agreement about pay,” they said.
“In spite of the difficult trading environment, we have offered all of our colleagues at the coffin factory a fair pay increase. We are confident that the combined base pay and production bonus for roles within the coffin factory remain highly competitive.
“We would like to provide full reassurance that the strike has no impact on our ability support to bereaved families and we are able to maintain a strong supply of coffins.”